From a Buick 8 Hardcover – Sep 24 2002
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Stephen King, an evil car, and a teenage boy coming to terms with the fragility and randomness of life.... Wait, haven't we read this before? Diehard King fans, worry not. Aside from the titular car playing a main role in the story, From a Buick 8 could not be less like King's 1983 masterpiece, Christine. If anything, this story resembles King's serial novel The Green Mile, with reminiscing police characters flashing back on bizarre events that took place decades earlier.
The book's intriguing plot revolves around the troopers of Pennsylvania State Patrol Troop D, who come into possession of what at first appears to be a vintage automobile. Closer inspection and experimentation conducted by the troopers reveal that this car's doors (and trunk) sometimes open to another dimension populated by gross-out creatures straight out of... well, a Stephen King novel. As the plot progresses, the veteran troopers' tales of these visits from interdimensional nasties, and the occasional "lightquakes" put on by the car, are passed on to the son of a fallen comrade whose fascination with the car bordered on dangerous obsession.
Unlike earlier King works, there is no active threat here; no monster is stalking the heroes of the story, unless you count the characters' own curiosity. In past books, King has terrorized readers with vampires, werewolves, a killer clown, ghosts, and aliens, but this time around, the bogeyman is a more passive, cerebral threat, and one for which they don't make a ready-to-wear Halloween costume--man's fascination with and fear of the unknown. While some readers may find this tale less exciting than the horror master's earlier works, From a Buick 8 is a wonderful example of how much King's plotting skills and literary finesse have matured over his long career. And, most of all, it's a darn creepy book. --Benjamin Reese
From Publishers Weekly
King, we learn in an author's note, hashed out the plot of this gripper while driving from western Pennsylvania to New York. The first draft took two months to write. That's quick work, and it's reflected in the book's simplicity of plot and theme; unlike King's chewy last novel, Dreamcatcher, this one goes down like a shot of moonshine, hot and clean, much like Cujo, say, or Gerald's Game. In 1979, an odd man drives what at first glance looks like a 1954 mint-quality Buick Roadmaster up to a service station in rural Pennsylvania, then vanishes, leaving behind the car. The state police of Troop D deposit the vehicle in a shed near their barracks, where, up to the present, it remains a secret from all but cop colleagues for the car isn't exactly a car; it may be alive, and it certainly serves as a doorway between our world and... what? Another dimension? Another galaxy? The troopers never find out, despite their amateurish scientific investigations of it and of the weird beings that occasionally emerge from the vehicle's trunk: freaky fish, creepy flowers and more. Moreover, the "car" is dangerous: the day it appears, a state trooper disappears, and experiments over the years with cockroaches, etc., indicate that just as the car can spew things out, it will ingest them. While the book's relative brevity and simplicity does lend comparison to earlier King, and King has relied on a nasty car before (Christine), the author's stylistic maturity manifests in his sophisticated handling of the round robin of narrators (both first and third-person), the sharp portrayal of police ways and mores and the novel's compelling subthemes (loyalty, generational bondings) and primary theme: that life is filled with Buick 8s, phenomena that blindside us and that we can never understand. This novel isn't major King, but it's nearly flawless and one terrific entertainment.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
One day, twenty years ago, someone (an alien) abandons what seems to be a Buick at a gas station in western Pennsylvania. The police confiscate it and soon discover that it isn't a car at all. The central conceit of the book is how the police (unforgivably, if you ask me) keep an alien machine to themselves, despite how dangerous it is.
King has mellowed with age. His characters are older and more sedate. The story itself is fairly laid-back, although terrible things do happen. However, it doesn't have the kinetic energy of King's early work, and I think that is what the negative reviews are responding to. It is still a good, scary book however. King has not lost his touch for characterization or creating a richly detailed and researched world - you feel you know what it is like to be a State Trooper at the end of this. If you are a Stephen King fan, you will enjoy this novel.
One of the pleasures of reading Stephen King's large body of work is watching how he has changed and grown as an author over time. While not as flashy as some of his earlier work, this is a more accomplished novel in which King displays a quiet mastery of his craft as well as a maturity and control that could only come with age.
Buick 8 has its fantasy elements, and they are fun, damn creepy at times; but the story shines brightest when Sandy Dearborne narrates--his anger with the young Ned Wilcox who is trying to deal with the greef of a fallen father (another State trooper named Curt) is painful. Sandy sees so much of Curt in Ned that it frustrates him to hell through high water because he sees the kid making the same mistakes that the father struggled with, and he's angry at Ned, and with Ned's father, but only because he loved Curt like a brother, and because he loves Ned like a nephew. And it is this conflict where we see King at his best, mirroring the emotion that we saw in Hearts in Atlantis and in The Green Mile. A beautiful story showing us that King is like a fine wine: gets better with age. Pick it up--it is well worth the price.
I was able to hang in .. happily.. for the first 200 pages or so... but it gets old rather quickly. Most of the book is just a constant stream-of-conscience recollection of this evil Buick in a garage, and there are layers and layers of smarmy, state-troopers-are-a-family mentality. Which is all fine and dandy, but it's just not what one would expect from a Stephen King book.
King is a wonderfully talented author, of course, but-- unless you have a particular interest in state troopers, Pennsylvania, or vintage Buicks, I'd pass on this book.
The tale has all of those trademark King-isms: honest, every day folk challenged by malevolent and mysterious forces and circumstances; a simple, conversational narrative that draws you in; and relatable characters who allow us to feel part of the action. In terms of mysterious forces, I loved the Buick 'character' that came from some place else. Even more so I loved that it's existence and impact was never fully explained, "We had drawn a few conclusions about the Buick over the years - established a few rules - but we knew better than to trust any of them very far."
The story of the Buick sallies forth from a troop of Pennsylvania State Troopers over the course of an afternoon. The Troopers and other local public servants have housed the vehicle and kept its secret for years ("The Roadmaster was strange and exotic, unique, and it was theirs. They couldn't bear to surrender it."). In that time, there were numerous strange events that took place when on occasion the car would act up.
King does have a fascination with cars and in this vehicle he does not provide it with a personality like Christine, instead, he makes it a portal or cold piece of technology and that is far more intriguing. The plot and its resolution still allows for the reader to use their own imagination in spades since not all questions are answered.
It is great entertainment and should not be rushed. Take it slow to enjoy the sarcastic reference to my home province of Manitoba, a place that King has mentioned a few times in his works. The tile of this review is a cool line from the book.
Most recent customer reviews
Huge Stephen King fan and a collector so I am very pleased to own another book by my favourite author.Published 8 days ago by Blanche Chymycz
Slow moving story about a bunch of police officers who discover a mysterious alien Buick in western Pennsylvania. Read morePublished 21 months ago by David Cavaco
Very unusual storyline but had me involved from the first chapter. This book is extremely AWESOME!
I would recommend this to any King fan.
The "Buick 8" is a car kept in storage shed B behind the headquarters of Pennsylvania State Police Troop D headquarters. Read morePublished on Feb. 19 2013 by John M. Ford
When Ned Wilcox loses his father Curtis, a former Pennsylvania Trooper, he begins to hang around the barracks of Pennsylvania Troop D where his father spent so much of his time. Read morePublished on May 1 2009 by Jamieson Villeneuve
I have read the book, and the story was not too bad, but like Hearts In Atlantis he (King) does not quite manage to bring the story anywhere, and this occures to you just after... Read morePublished on July 18 2004 by Pål Amundsen
I was somewhat disappointed in this book, it never seemed to really go anywhere and I kept waiting for something to actually happen. Read morePublished on July 12 2004
Having been a longtime fan of Stephen King, I was greatly disappointed in 'From A Buick 8'. The story was almost non-existent, the characters were poorly developed and there was no... Read morePublished on July 12 2004 by A reader
I have read and enjoyed almost every book King his written. I managed to make it through 200 pages before I had to give up. Boring, pointless, unscary. Read morePublished on June 7 2004